Das Kiewer Visual Culture Research Center wurde 2008 als Plattform für die Zusammenarbeit von Wissenschaftlern, Künstlern und Aktivisten gegründet. Aufgrund seiner bewusst unabhängigen und kritischen Auseinandersetzung mit aktuellen gesellschaftlichen Entwicklungen ist es wiederholt zur Zielscheibe von Angriffen geworden. Die bisher größte Kontroverse löste 2012 die Ausstellung "Ukrainischer Körper" aus, gegen die u.a. von der rechtsnationalistischen Partei Swoboda Protestaktionen organisiert wurden.
Serhiy Hirik schrieb damals in einem Beitrag für die Ukraine-Analysen (Externer Link: Nr. 110 vom 11.12.2012): "Vorrangig auf neofaschistischen Webseiten wurde die Ausstellung "Ukrainischer Körper" als Pornografie und das Zentrum selbst als "Mittelpunkt der Liederlichkeit" bezeichnet. Die gängigen Floskeln – "Propaganda für Homosexualität", "Pseudokunst", "degenerierte Kunst" usw. – dienen dazu, die traditionalistisch ausgerichteten Anhänger von Swoboda und die ihnen ideologisch nahestehenden Strukturen zu verschrecken."
Er resümierte zur öffentlichen Reaktion: "Eine wirklich solidarische, deutliche und aktive Reaktion haben wir jedoch nicht erlebt. Und das ist die fünfte unerfreuliche, möglicherweise die unerfreulichste Schlussfolgerung, denn sie zeugt davon, dass wir alle noch einen Schritt nach rechts in Richtung Wand gemacht haben."
Am 7. Februar 2017 wurde nun die aktuelle Ausstellung im Visual Culture Research Center die sich unter dem Titel "The Lost Opportunity" mit den Entwicklungen nach dem EuroMaidan beschäftigt, von vermummten Rechtsextremen gewaltsam zerstört. Im Gegensatz zu 2012 ist dieses Mal sogar öffentliche Aufmerksamkeit weitgehend ausgeblieben. Wir dokumentieren im Folgenden die Pressemitteilung des Center zu den Ereignissen. Die Ausstellung wurde am 12. Februar 2017 mit einer Vorlesung der Menschenrechtsaktivistin Ksenia Prokonova wiedereröffnet.
Visual Culture Research Center Pressemitteilung vom 8. Februar 2017 Attack on the Visual Culture Research Center: Right Wing Radicals Destroyed The Lost Opportunity exhibition by Davyd Chychkan
On Tuesday, February 7, at 17:40, approximately fifteen people broke into Visual Culture Research Center. They beat up the security guard, destroyed the exhibition The Lost Opportunity by Davyd Chychkan, stealing four artworks and heavily damaging others.
Dedicated to the war and post-Maidan situation in Ukraine, the exhibition The Lost Opportunity by Davyd Chychkan had opened in Visual Culture Research Center on Thursday, February 2. Threats to the artist and organizers, as well as calls to destroy the exhibition were subsequently posted on the social media pages of the far right groups and bloggers.
In order to guarantee safety of the visitors and the artist, we cancelled Davyd Chychkan’s guided tour of the exhibition on Saturday, February 4 and closed it for the weekend. Despite the announced cancellation of the tour, and closed doors of the exhibition, a group of young men gathered in front of the VCRC entrance door. They severely beat up a passerby and attacked two visitors using a pepper spray. One of the visitors filed a complaint to the police. The mentioned individuals also broke and torn off the plastic sign and the advertising banner of the exhibition.
On Tuesday, February 7 the exhibition was reopened in accordance with its regular working hours. A young man was noticed observing the entrance doors to the exhibition. A member of VCRC asked whether he wanted to come in and the man answered that he would come back later. Because of his suspicious behavior and outfit that is typical for the far right subculture, the workers of Visual Culture Research Center called the police and closed the door, opening it only for each visitor.
Around 17:40 the security guard who was working at the exhibition together with the VCRC members, opened the door for three visitors to come in. About 15 people broke into the premises with their faces covered. They used a pepper-spray, encircling the security guard, threatening him, and demanding to lay on the ground. Eventually, several persons attacked the guard, punching him in the face, while the rest of the group were destroying the artworks and filming the action using their mobile phones. Trying to break into the office room, where VCRC members stayed behind closed door, yet not successfully, the group left, taking several artworks and books from the exposition.
Please find a link to the video surveillance camera inside the VCRC gallery space: Externer Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tzm9llqEZVg
Among the graffiti the attackers made on the walls, there is a trident (the emblem of Ukraine) that is shaped as a Celtic cross, proving that it was neo-Nazis who carried out the attack. Until now, none of the far-right groups in Ukraine or Russia has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The police opened criminal investigation under Article 296 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine as “a hooligan act committed by a group of persons” that could be reclassified. The exhibition presented ten graphic paintings by Davyd Chychkan. Four were stolen, while three were completely destroyed. Only two works survived the attack and one was slightly damaged. We preliminary estimate the losses of works at 6 000 dollars. The damage to the Center (broken walls, destroyed protective shield, a broken heater, etc.) are estimated at 1 500 dollars.
The Lost Opportunity exhibition by Davyd Chychkan, organized by the Visual Culture Research Center, is dedicated to the war and post-Maidan situation in Ukraine. The Lost Opportunity poses the questions that have been in the air for more than three years: what was this event and what it could have become? According to the artist, Maidan is a lost opportunity for the Ukrainian society to accomplish a social revolution, which would mean not only to defend dignity, but rather finally gain dignified living conditions. In series of graphic works Davyd was exploring the reasons and reflecting on the consequences of this loss, among which the so-called “decommunization” phenomenon that crystallizes the traits of counterrevolution in the context of political ignorance.
It is not for the first time that Visual Culture Research Center is being attacked. In September 2014 not far from Kontraktova Square metro station the head of VCRC Vasyl Cherepanyn was severely beaten up by seven people in camouflage gear. In May 2012 two young men attacked the exhibition A Room of My Own by Yevgenia Belorusets, dedicated to the everyday lives of queer families in Ukraine, and beaten up the security guard. In December 2010 the participants of Anti-Yolka rally on the occasion of International Human Rights Day within the framework of The Ideology of Difference conference were attacked at a metro station. In November 2010 the unknown masked individuals attacked the participants of the event dedicated to the Transgender Day of Remembrance by throwing a smoke pellet. None of these incidents has ever been investigated.